LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

Wake Up, Open The Door And Escape To The Sea by shinobi

Just catch your breath, we'll dive in and our descent will somehow feel like life goes on...

written for the latest challenge : http://community.livejournal.com/graffitidec_fic/66523.html#cutid1


Wake Up, Open The Door And Escape To The Sea



+




Chester sat and stared at the list in his hands. The thick, blue type blurred beneath heavy pencil lines and deep creases that etched themselves into the tattered sheet of paper.



He’d finally got there, down to that one last thing; that final hurdle on his list.



SAY SORRY TO MIKE.



It seemed easy on paper. Just four words. Out in a second when spoken; when glanced over by the eyes.



Yet doing it, actually doing it was going to be one of the hardest things Chester had ever attempted in his life. Harder than the quitting, the spell in rehab, paying back the money he’d stolen from his parents. It was going to be harder than that cold day of admitting he was an addict, going to counselling for the first time. It was going to take more out of him that the day he’d flushed away his final stash of heroin. It was going to take everything out of him, Chester knew that.



The list had been his therapist’s idea. Right some wrongs, Chester, is what he’d said before reaching into a drawer beneath his desk and puling out a single sheet of A4 sized paper, It will help you.



So Chester had gone away that afternoon, rather begrudgingly taking the proffered pen and paper with him. He’d sat alone in the hostel he called home, chewing on the cap of the pen, staring blankly into a wall. There was so much to put right, how could he narrow it down to just ten things? Frankly, Chester didn’t believe it would work.



Six months later and after a gruelling battle with just about every wrong he’d so far managed to right, he wasn’t about to just give up at the last hurdle. Was he?



He felt nervous and worn. He felt like this was either going to make him or break him.



He felt like he wasn’t quite ready for this and perhaps never would be.



+



The list had strangely become his reason for living, his way of slowly getting through the days; the weeks even. As much as he had originally hated the idea, it had become a lifeline to him. Without it he probably would have been faced with the same monotony day in day out, one which would have more than likely led his restlessness into thinking he needed something to do, or roughly translating, something to snort; something to inject.



It was a Friday morning and Chester was standing outside the entrance to the block of apartments that Mike lived in. His hands were shaking, not only due to the ice cold winds that were whipping at the bare skin. He was nervous too. More so than the day he’d walked up to his parent’s house and pushed an envelope containing the money he owed underneath the doorframe.



He had to do this. One deep breath and he pushed open the door, stepped inside.



The lobby was as warm and inviting as ever. It even smelt the same to Chester. A hazy scent of lilies and coffee combining together and sparking a thousand memories to play in one big montage right before his eyes. Chester shook his head and stepped toward the elevator, heavy door slipping shut behind him and shutting away the outside word. It felt safe in here, safe and warm and Chester leant his head against the wall as the elevator effortlessly slid open its doors.



It was all the same. Lilac walls; small bench to sit on; mirror to his left. Chester hated that it hadn’t changed. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, reminding him of how things used to be.



He pushed the button, doors sliding shut and elevator jerking into action. He leant against the wall, thinking about all those stolen kisses, hugs and echoes of laughter that had once filled this tiny space. A time before Chester threw it all away.



Then the doors opened once again and Chester stepped out into the narrow hallway; face to face with Mike’s door. He heard the elevator slipping away from him, his only chance of escape leaving him and for a few minutes he just stood frozen to the spot, his eyes staring at the green door before him.



He had to do this.



As soon as he’d raised his hand and knocked lightly against the surface of the door Chester felt physically sick, like he wanted to turn and run away. There was nowhere to hide though and the sound of chains being rattled, handle being turned and suddenly the door creaking open made him realise this was it.



“Hello?”



Chester didn’t recognise the elderly man who stood in the doorway with a tweed flat cap pulled down over his head. Chester stepped back, eyed the number on the door then glanced at the man once again.



“I… Is Mike in?”



The old man’s features turned into a frown and Chester glanced yet again at the brass numbers nailed to the door. Twenty Eight. It had always been twenty eight.



“Mike? No one called Mike living here. You sure you got the right number?”



“Yes.. I.. He lived here.”



“Hmm,” The man scratched his head, “Probably the guy who lived here before me. I only moved in a few months ago you see,” His voice faded as he disappeared for a second behind the door, “What’s his last name?” He called.



“Shinoda.”



“Ahh,” He reappeared again, “Sounds familiar. I’ve got an address to forward any mail to if that’s any use?”



“That would be great, thank you.”



The elderly man didn’t reappear for another minute or so but when he did a piece of paper was in his hand. He pushed it toward Chester who took it with a smile. Then the door was closed and Chester was gazing at the address on the torn yellow page, realising that he’d been wrong; everything had changed.



+



The train station was cold and Chester stood against the wall with his shoulders hunched, the wind so strong it blew his scarf up into his face. He could hear his train coming and slid a hand into his back pocket for the umpteenth time, just to make sure his ticket was still there.



Rain was starting to pitter-patter down from the angry looking clouds above and Chester cursed himself for not bringing an umbrella. As the train pulled into the station and came to a halt Chester took a deep breath and repeated over and over to himself that yes, he had to do this.



The doors whizzed open and Chester stepped forward, head down against the wind and rain as he crossed the platform and hesitantly stepped onto the train. The carriage was almost empty except for a couple of teenagers who were sleeping, their arms and legs intertwined together. Chester walked past them and slipped into a seat, immediately resting his head against the cold window that greeted him. Then, as the doors banged shut, the train pulled out of the station and the rain came lashing down against the window, Chester started to think about what he was actually going to say to Mike.



Sure, he’d thought about it non stop but now the time, the pinnacle in his life was actually fast approaching he found he still didn’t know. What if Mike didn’t want to hear him? What if he didn’t even want to see him? It wouldn’t surprise Chester in the least for Chester had, after all, single-handedly ruined Mike’s entire life. Chester tried putting himself in Mike’s position but all he could to was picture himself forgiving Mike. He was too biased to be objective over this. He knew Mike would still be hurting; still be angry and feel so betrayed. But would he be willing to hear how very fucking sorry Chester was?



Chester turned to gaze out of the window. For a minute he thought the rain had just started to fall even harder. Then he realised that those tiny tracks blighting his vision were in fact his tears.



+



The town Mike now lived in was, Chester noted as he stepped off the train, in the middle of fucking nowhere. The train was fast fading into the distance and Chester looked up at the tiny ticket office; the streets ahead with their derelict houses and burnt out cars. He felt a pang of guilt. If it weren’t for him then Mike would not be living here.



Pushing open the door to the ticket office, Chester found a bored looking, middle-aged man sitting behind a desk. He was reading a book, stuffing chips into his mouth and slowly peered up at Chester as he let the door softly click shut behind him.



“I’m looking for Castle Boulevard,” Chester told the man who by this point was attempting to sit up straight in his seat.



“Castle Boulevard,” He repeated, “Hmm. You’ll need to get a taxi.”



“Can I not walk it?”



“Yeah but it’s gonna take you at least an hour.”



“That’s fine.”



The man frowned, rubbing at the goatee beard that graced his chin, “Very well. I’ll come outside and point you in the right direction.”



The rain was lashing down in sheets as Chester followed the man outside. He tugged down the sleeves of his coat, pulled up his hood as he was led out onto the main road, not a soul to be seen.



“Okay,” The guy lifted an arm, “You want to follow this road straight down to the end. Probably take you about half an hour. Then as you come to the end, you want to take the turning to your right,” He swung his arm around, “Follow that road to the very end, then turn right again,” His arm swung once more, “Onto a gravel pathway. If you imagine you’re doubling back on yourself.”



“Okay, then after that?”



“You’ll come to an old ruin, used to be a castle. You want to cross the grounds toward a small row of cottages, that’s Castle Boulevard.”



Chester eyed the blackening clouds that were gathering up in the sky and shivered.



“Thank you,” He smiled.



“Good luck!” The man laughed, lighting up a cigarette.



Chester wasn’t quite sure how to take those words but made a point of not asking. Probably best not to know, he thought to himself as he gazed down the never-ending road before him, took a deep breath and began walking.



The rain didn’t seem like it was going to relent anytime soon but Chester figured he’d make good use of this time, maybe figure out what he was going to say to Mike. Sorry for ruining your life? Sorry for lying to you? Sorry I am the reason you’re going to be on medication for the rest of your years? Sorry I kept secrets from you because I stupidly thought it would protect you?



Chester’s feet splashed through muddy puddles, crunched against the uneven surface of the sidewalk. He knew there was so much for him to apologise for, but where to even start? That’s if Mike let him inside in the first place. That’s if Mike was actually willing to give him the time of day because Chester seriously wouldn’t blame him if he wasn’t.



The further Chester walked, the more his stomach tied itself in knots. In fact he was just reaching the castle ruins when he had to stop, lean over into a bush and be violently sick. He steadied himself against a tree trunk and gazed up at the castle. All that was left was a turret and the remnants of what had undoubtedly once been a lavish doorway. He walked on, eyes no longer distracted by the imposing ruin but the row of wooden cottages that were sitting patiently on the horizon.



Chester felt his stomach flipping again.



There was no going back now, was there?



No, he told himself decisively. He’d come this far. He was soaked to the skin, could no longer feel his fingers. He couldn’t give up now.



It seemed to take forever to reach Castle Boulevard from that moment. Almost as if the ground in front of him was forever lengthening itself, like he wasn’t supposed to be encroaching on the serenity of the tiny cottages with their peaceful gardens and smoking chimneys. So when Chester’s feet finally hit gravel once again and he realised he was fast approaching the small cottage with a number three painted beside it’s wooden door, he suddenly had to stop to catch his breath.



It all looked so cosy; so Mike. There was a small green garden before the house, a winding pathway leading up to the veranda. A wind chime in the shape of a sun hung proudly from the archway leading to the front door and behind one of the windows Chester could see a ginger and white cat sleeping against the glass pane.



Now or never.



Chester slid his hand into his pocket, fingers brushing against the creases of his list; the sharp edge of his train ticket; finally the crumpled tear of paper he was searching for. He slipped it out and held it up.



3 Castle Boulevard.



He glanced down to the cottage. Number three.



“Do it,” He uttered, slowly slipping the paper back into his pocket.



The gate squeaked as he opened it. The gravel crunched loudly beneath his feet as he walked toward the house. The veranda creaked and groaned as he stepped up and gingerly rapped his knuckles against the door.



It took a while to open and Chester felt his stomach twisting and turning; hands shaking at his sides; heart threatening to leap up and out of his mouth. And then it opened.



Mike looked so different. So pale and thin. His hair was standing on end, dancing out in all directions and his eyes which widened to the size of saucers as he looked up were tired and bloodshot.



Chester didn’t know what the hell to say at first but slowly, he found his voice and managed to make a coherent sound.



“Hey.”



“Hi.”



The wind chimes beside the door began to sing and Chester felt something warm rub against his ankles. He glanced down to see another cat, this one pure white. He bent down and scooped it up in his arms, glad of the warmth against his hands.



“That’s Charles,” Mike said.



Chester glanced up, Charles almost flung to the floor, “Really?”



Mike smiled. It wasn’t a smile Chester was used to, not one of those big ear-to-ear smiles where Mike’s teeth would shine and his eyes would crease up. It was a tired smile, but, a smile nonetheless.



Charles jumped down and started to rub around Mike’s ankles, mewing as his tail flicked about.



“Would it be okay if I came inside?”



Mike nodded, “Okay,” He moved aside, “I’m afraid the place is a bit of a mess today. Ebony went on a rampage earlier on.”



“Ebony?” Chester asked as he stepped inside and was immediately enveloped by the warmth of the house.



“Oh, the black one with green eyes. She likes to chase the mouse.”



Chester smiled, glancing around the house, “This is nice,” He found himself saying.



“Thanks.”



Chester found his words getting stuck in his throat, found that looking over at Mike was just about all he was capable of. The long walk, the rain and cold air had taken everything out of him and suddenly he felt weak and tired, unsure of how he could change anything by coming here. He felt tears pricking the corners of his eyes, that ever present lump in his throat gradually getting bigger.



“There’s so much I wanted to say Mike,” Chester breathed out.



Mike nodded, fiddling as he did with the silver chain that still, after all these months, hung around his neck.



“I know you probably hate me.”



“No,” Mike shook his head, “I mean believe me I wanted to, I tried to. I just can’t,” He sighed sadly, “No matter how hard I try.”



Chester looked down at his hands, red fingers poking at the cuffs of his coat. He didn’t hate him. That had to be a start.



“So,” Mike started for him, “How are you?”



Chester shrugged, “I’ve been better.”



Mike nodded, like he was silently agreeing to that statement then added, “You’re clean?”



“Yes. Seven months and twenty eight days to be exact.”



“That’s great.”



“I guess. So what about you? How are you?”



“I’m alright,” Mike shrugged.



“You are? I mean, you just look…”



“Ill?” Mike asked, “Like a man who’s dying?”



“I didn’t mean that,” Chester winced.



“No,” Mike sighed, “I’m sorry. That was uncalled for.”



“Probably no less than I deserve.”



“I’m not going to shout at you and tell you how true that is Chester,” Mike sighed, “I don’t have the energy these days. Come on let’s sit down.”



Mike led Chester into the lounge. A red couch took up most of the room and Chester followed suite as Mike sat down. His jacket crumpled loudly as he sat down and Mike glanced at him.



“You’re soaking. I’ll go get you a towel.”



“No, it’s fine.”



“Chester, you’ll get sick.”



“…”



“Don’t say it,” Mike frowned, getting to his feet.



Chester shrugged his jacket away and glanced around the room. Every nook and cranny was filled with something or other. A stack of books; a pile of paint pots; unfinished canvases and of course, another different coloured cat, sleeping soundly in a ball.



Mike returned a few seconds later with a large towel and a black sweater. He sat down beside Chester and handed them over.



“How did you find me?”



Chester placed the towel on his knee, “The guy who lives in your old apartment wrote down your address. I got the train.”



“Please don’t tell me you walked from the station?”



Chester nodded, hesitantly peeling off his sodden t-shirt. The chill of the air hit him and he immediately wrapped the towel around him, shivering as he tried to get dry.



“Do you want a drink?”



“No,” Chester shook his head, “Thanks.”



“Are you’re sure?”



“All I want,” Chester sighed pulling the warm sweater over his head, “Is a chance to apologise.”



“That’s why you came here then.”



“Yes.”



“A letter would have done y’know.”



“I’m sorry, okay?”



“No,” Mike shook his head, “It’s not Chester and it probably never will be.”



“Then hear me out? Please Mike?”



“What can’t be said in a letter that can be said in person?”



“I wanted to tell you to your face.”



“Why? So you can watch me get angry? Watch me try not to cry?”



“No Mike,” Chester frowned, “No, that’s not it.”



“Then what? What’s so important you wanted to come here and tell me personally?”



“I’m,” Chester cleared his throat, clinging onto Mike’s gaze, “I’m dying.”



“Oh join the club,” Mike muttered, his eyes still locked with Chester’s.



“No Mike, I’m dying as in, I probably be won’t be around this time next week and after everything I put you through I figured you deserve to hear it from me, not weeks later in some letter from a relative.”



Mike bit his lip. Chester swore he could see tears as Mike turned away, his hand cupped over his mouth. This isn’t what he’d come here for, to reduce Mike to tears. He’d just wanted to get things sorted before he went. He couldn’t die knowing Mike hadn’t had a proper apology.



“Why are you telling me this?” Mike asked, suddenly on his feet, “It doesn’t change anything you know! It’s not going to make me hurt any less. God Chester! Why did you do this? Why?!”



“I just, I thought if it were the other way around, I’d want to know…”



“No! Not that,” Mike waved his hands wildly, “Why did you lie to me? Why did you hurt me?”



“I wish I knew Mike,” Chester sighed, “I’m an addict. I did what I could to get the drugs I was craving.”



“But why didn’t you tell me you had a problem? Why did you keep it from me? I could have helped! I would have done anything for you Chaz.”



Chester shivered, if not because Mike had called him Chaz, then because he was scared; scared of hurting Mike again; scared that none of this could or ever would be rectified.



“I just want to try and put things right before I go,” Chester chewed nervously on his lower lip, “I know I’m hardly in the position to ask but if you could just let me try Mike.”



Mike sighed. He paced up and down before finally sitting back down. A smoky grey cat jumped up onto his lap and Mike patted its head as it curled up, legs stretched out in front.



“Gustav,” Mike suddenly spoke, patting the cat’s head again, “He was the first cat I adopted. He likes to think he’s King of the house. In Gustav’s world, everything revolves around him. I let him think he’s in charge,” Mike smiled, “Bit like you and me, huh?”



“No Mike,” Chester whispered softly, “It was never like that.”



“Really? I ran around making sure you were okay? I worked hard so both of us could one day move away and start our real life together? All the time you were doing as you pleased. Snorting up coke in seedy bars whilst I believed you were at college. Fucking other men to pay for your habit whilst I thought you were waiting tables. Using dirty needles and fucking me when you came home.”



“Stop it,” Chester shut his eyes, “It wasn’t like that.”



“Then how was it Chester? How was it?”



“I lied to you, I know I did but I only lied to protect you. And if it’s any consolation, I will never forgive myself for what I put you through.”



“It’s no consolation Chester! I don’t even think there is one!”



“Mike…”



“No, Chester,” Mike shook his head, “You did not protect me. You just lied and made me fall in love with someone you invented.”



“No! That’s not fair! You fell in love with me Mike, no one else.”



“No. The Chester I fell in love with wasn’t an addict. He wasn’t living a lie. He was kind and gentle, he was,” Mike paused, “He wasn’t you.”



“Please…”



“You betrayed me Chester. You made me think I’d found the one.”



“I…”



“But all the time you were fucking other people, using me for some place warm and safe. I was just the in between to your highs, wasn’t I?”



“You don’t get it. That’s not how it was. Don’t you think I wanted to tell you? Don’t you think I wanted to come clean?”



“Then why didn’t you?”



“Because every time I thought about it I realised how much it would hurt you.”



“So you just left it until it was too late?”



“That’s what it is?” Chester whispered, “Too late?”



“You infected me Chester. You infected me with HIV because you were fucking strangers; using dirty needles. Do you know how reckless you were? Do you know how much you of me you have destroyed?”



“I didn’t do it on purpose though Mike,” Chester gasped out, “I didn’t set out to do this, to hurt you or--”



“All you had to do was tell me the truth. I would have helped you.”



“I know..”



“Would you have told me by now? Say if we were still together, if I hadn’t gotten sick? If I hadn’t been sent for those blood tests? If the truth hadn’t come out? Would it still be going on?”



Chester glanced down to his hands as they tied knots around one another. That day flashed before his eyes. They’d both been sick for weeks, the flu, they’d assumed. But when Mike had passed out, cold and numb and barely breathing and when he’d been rushed to a hospital and Chester had shook and prayed and pleaded with God for everything to be okay, it became obvious that it wasn’t a cold, or a bug. It was Chester’s reckless decisions, his utter lack of common sense; his damn stupidity and selfishness.



“There’s not a day passes by when I don’t think about what happened that day,” Chester sighed, “I’m sorry.”



“You know something?” Mike suddenly said, “When I found out that I was positive, I prayed you wouldn’t have it. When you went for the blood tests? I sat and prayed Chester, I actually prayed to God. I thought that if it was just me, if by some miracle it was just me, then everything would be alright somehow. And when you got your results, when you came to me and sobbed out everything to me, I stopped believing in God. I just plain stopped because that’s all I ever asked from him. I didn't want you to be positive. Not you.”



Chester didn’t know what to say.



“So would you have ever told me the truth Chester? Would you?”



He gazed up toward Mike who’s blackened eyes were staring right back at him waiting for the answer.



“I’d like to think so.”



Mike gulped. He shook his head and Chester let a lone tear slip down his cheek. He sniffed and Mike stared at him, cold and untrusting.



“I was scared Mike but I’m not that person anymore.”



“I’m not that person anymore either.”



“I’m sorry.”



“Stop telling me that.”



“What am I supposed to say?”



“You’re not supposed to say anything.”



“I want to though.”



“I’m going to make that drink,” Mike picked Gustav up and placed him on the couch.



Chester wiped away his tears as Mike disappeared into the kitchen. So this was it? Hardly how Chester had wanted things to really end. A few minutes passed and Mike still hadn’t returned so placing the wet towel down, Chester got to his feet and wondered down the narrow hallway.



He passed a bedroom and a small closet then what looked like a study crammed with yet more paintings and easels. Then he reached the kitchen, a step down into the low room which smelt of coffee and lilies. Chester stepped inside, hesitating as he saw Mike standing at the window with his back to him. He passed the wooden table, saw the familiar pile of pill bottles that also graced his kitchen table back home then he looked up, eyes settling on the view that was visible through the kitchen window.



It took Chester’s breath away at first. A long stretch of grass sprawled its way down for a few metres, ending with a knotted oak tree that teetered slightly to one side. Then, as Chester stepped closer to the window, he saw that the land suddenly stopped, giving way to a greying sea that shimmered in the distance.



“That’s some view,” Chester breathed out, finally coming to a stop beside Mike.



“I like to call it the edge of the earth,” Mike whispered, “We’re on a cliff, see?” He nodded pointing toward the land, “Five years ago the garden was four times the length it is now.”



“Really?” Chester blinked, trying to imagine where the land had disappeared to so rapidly.



“Five years from now this cottage will probably be in the sea,” Mike nodded, “Just floating away one day after the cliff finally gives in again.”



“I’d like to go that way,” Chester mused out loud, watching the sky as it broke from black to grey to white, smoothing in with the outline of the sea.



“Really?”



“It’d be peaceful,” Chester nodded, “Just drifting away in the sea.”



“I’m sorry I yelled at you.”



“I think I deserved it.”



“I find it hard Chester, hard to get away from what happened. That’s partly why I came to live here. I thought the further away from you, the easier things would be.”



“And?”



“Things never are that simple, are they?”



“I think I can attest to that,” Chester nodded solemnly.



“There’s no easy way of saying this,” Mike paused, “But I can’t get away from you, no matter how hard I’ve tried. Like, everywhere I look there’s a reminder of you.”



“I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or…?”



“No,” Mike smiled, “Neither am I. I still haven’t worked that out.”



“I tried to escape too. When I was with you, I never pretended. The Chester you fell in love with, is the Chester I am. The only side of me I didn’t want you to see is the addict in me, the person who was so low they would sleep with a stranger in return for drugs. I promise you Mike, I swear on your life that the guy you fell in love with was me.”



“I know,” Mike nodded, “I keep trying to escape that fact. I don’t do a very good job of it.”



“I know you may not forgive me but I wanted to at least give you some peace in your life. Now you know I won’t be around much longer, maybe it will be easier for you to move on.”



“No Chester,” Mike sighed, “It won’t ever be easy. Every time I take my medication, I’m reminded of you. Every time I hear a song on the radio or a guy with bleached hair crosses my pass? It’s you I think of.”



“I’m sorry.”



“No, don’t be. Who said I wanted to move on anyway?”



“But I destroyed your life, I turned your world upside down.”



“Yet I can’t stop loving you.”



Chester looked away for a second. He felt his heart flipping, his stomach turning into knots all over again.



“I can’t stop either,” Chester breathed out.



Silence fell between them, one only broken by the sound of Mike closing the gap between their bodies and gently placing his hand on top of Chester’s.



“How long have you got?”



“I didn’t tell you that just to…”



“You told me because you wanted to do one last decent thing. How long?”



“Two days. Three at the most.”



“Stay here with me.”



“I can’t.”



“Please.”



+



The air tasted of salt, whipping around Chester’s face and pinching at his cheeks, his nose and his bare fingers. Pebbles crunched beneath his feet, water lapping at his boots as he walked beside Mike along the beach.



“This is amazing,” Chester turned to Mike, “I feel like we’re the only people in the world.”



“Sometimes,” Mike shouted back over the waves as they crashed against one another, “I wish we were.”



“I thought you weren’t going to get all sentimental on me.”



“Sorry.”



“And you said that word was banned!”



Mike smiled, slid his arm under Chester’s. Chester smiled back and they continued the remainder of their walk in silence, stopping every so often as Chester fought to catch his breath and Mike stood very still beside him, hand rubbing his back. Chester thought back to when he’d sat in his room just a few days ago, staring back at number ten on his list of things to rectify. That final hurdle had been jumped. He was still mid-air but soon he’d be floating down, landing the other side of it, list complete.



“Here we are.”



Chester stopped at Mike’s side. They’d been doing this walk for the past two days but this is always as far as they’d gone. Before them a pathway cut itself into the side of the cliff, winding its way up toward the top. It looked a long way up and an even longer way down but Chester, he didn’t want to prolong this any more, he didn’t want to sit around and wait for this to happen.



He had to do this.



“Come on then,” He nodded, taking a step toward the pathway.



“Chester?”



He turned around, “What?”



“Are you sure?”



He nodded.



“Chester?”



“What?”



“Go steady.”



They had to stop several times, both catching their breath or sometimes just admiring the view. The higher they got, the harder the wind began to beat against them until crawling and holding onto the uneven ground was all they could do. However, as they reached the top and Chester took Mike’s outstretched hand, he knew it had been worth it.



They could see for miles and miles, though the greying clouds somewhat limited the views which cast back into their eyes, it was still pretty breathtaking. They walked further along until Mike bent down, eyes glancing over the side. Just the motion made Chester feel queasy but he soon followed, sitting down next to Mike with his legs crossed.



“So,” Mike smiled, “Are you going to tell me why you insisted we come up here?”



“Actually, I didn’t insist that you join me,” Chester smiled.



“I know. I wanted to come. I didn’t think you’d manage the walk alone. So?”



“I wrote you that letter last night,” Chester slid an envelope from out of his coat pocket, “But I don’t want you to read it till later.”



Mike paled as he took the envelope, his eyes blinking as he turned it in his hands.



“Careful, it might blow away.”



Mike nodded numbly, placed it in his pocket. Chester gulped as he glanced up at him.



“What you said the other day, about how you’d like to die falling into the sea? Chester…”



“I don’t want you to watch me die,” Chester whispered.



“So you came up here? You came up here to throw yourself off a cliff?”



Chester nodded.



“Oh Chaz, it doesn’t have to…”



“Sssh.”



“But I don’t want you to go just yet.”



“Neither do I Mike but I’ve put you through so much. I’m not going to let you watch me die. I’m starting to feel it already Mike. My hair’s fallen out, not a day passes when I don’t get sick, I can’t eat or stop shaking.”



“But I don’t want to be alone anymore.”



“You won’t be Mike,” Chester whispered, moving closer still, his hand brushing against Mike’s cheek, “I swear.”



Mike nodded numbly, a tear slipping down his face.



“Are you in a lot of pain?” He asked.



“Yes,” Chester nodded, “A lot.”



Mike reached forward, his hands grabbing a hold of Chester’s. It made Chester shiver even then, just like it had the first time Mike had been so close. Chester closed his eyes, felt his forehead touching with Mike’s, felt their lips grazing together.



“I never stopped loving you,” Mike breathed out.



Chester pulled away, his eyes opening as the words drifted into his ears. Regrets suddenly started to mean nothing as he leant forward once again and pressed his lips to Mike’s clammy cheek. What were regrets for? What was the point in holding them captive in the mind when really, when it came down to it, everything happened for a reason?



This. Now. Him. Mike. Together in one of the most beautiful places on earth.



Glancing over the edge of the cliff, Chester saw how quickly the tide had come in, now splashing at the cliff face; spraying salty droplets up against his face. It didn’t scare him the way he thought it might. In fact there seemed nothing fierce about the sea, not when he looked out past the crashing waves, into the distance where the water swayed gently back and forth.



“Will you read it? The letter?” Chester asked, turning back to Mike.



“No,” Mike whispered.



Chester frowned and stared back, gaze met with those big, brown eyes; the ones that had laughed, cried and fluttered open to meet him on so many mornings.



“Take me with you,” Mike whispered, “I want you to take me with you.”



There was a moment then. A moment when Chester felt him battling with his heart. He wanted to tell Mike that he couldn’t yet who was he to deny Mike’s request? After everything he’d put the younger man through, who was Chester to tell him no?



“I’m not sure…”



“I’m not asking.”



Chester took a deep breath, pressed his hands to his cheeks as he thought over Mike’s words. The wind was howling against them now, spraying more of the sea up and over their heads.



“I can’t do it alone,” Mike suddenly spoke, “I can’t get weak and tired and even sicker. It sounds like I’m giving in but really I’m not Chester. I’m just like you, I’m ready to go before this disease takes away my dignity. I’m ready Chester,” He repeated, “I’m ready.”



Chester knew when Mike meant something because Mike was the closest he’d ever come to a person. So close he knew him inside out. Even when the lies had separated them, even when he’d not told him the truth; Chester still knew Mike had always been sincere with him. From the start and now right through to the end. He leant forward, closed the gap once again and felt Mike’s shaky breath against his lips.



He knew that look Mike was giving him. It was nothing but sincerity.



Chester took a hold of Mike’s hand, their fingers twining together as tired legs moved beneath their bodies. It was only a couple of steps to the edge and they tiptoed forward, both casting their eyes downward, then sharply up until their gazes collided with one another.



They never let go of one another. Not when they stepped forward, not when there was no longer a ground beneath their feet. Not when they tumbled down into the sea. Not when their bodies twisted and turned and splashed into the ocean.



They never let go.




+



FIN.

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